When you have a toddler, the holidays are extra special and exciting! There are so many traditions you want to begin, experiences you want to share, and memories you want to make.
There’s nothing quite like seeing your little one experience all the joys of Christmas for the very first time!
While Christmas IS very special and exciting, it is not always cookies and candy canes…
Christmas shopping can be VERY overwhelming!
There are so many toys to choose from and of course, your child wants every single one of them. How do you choose? Are some more valuable than others? Will they even be picked up after 2 weeks of playing with them?
So many questions that swirl around in your head. Well, this guide is here to help!
This comprehensive list contains the TOP 25 Speech Therapist recommended toys to promote language development in toddlers.
So yes, there ARE toys that are more valuable, longer lasting, and beneficial to development than others. These 25 toys were strategically chosen because they meet the essential criteria for determining whether or not they can have a positive impact on language development. Oh, and your toddler will love them too 😉
1. Toy phone: The toy phone is great for teaching functional conversation skills. Teach your toddler the “rules” for back-and-forth communication, appropriate greetings/goodbyes, and maintaining and switching topics appropriately.
2. Farm set: The farm set is a classic! There are so many opportunities for language building with this toy. Model specific vocabulary, animal names and sounds, and basic concepts.
3. Baby doll: The baby doll is a great way for both boys and girls to learn the language and routines associated with caring for a baby.
4. Play-doh: With so many colors and tools to choose from, Play-doh opens up a lot of opportunities for language growth. Your child will love learning the names of the tools and the different shapes they can make as well as hearing you model appropriate verbs such as roll, squish, twist, and cut!
5. Sand table: This sand table can also be used as a water table or a sensory table. Its multiple uses really allow for an infinite number of language building opportunities. Modeling verbs is my favorite skills to focus on when playing with this sand table.
6. Play kitchen: The kitchen is another classic that can last for a very long time. Kids of all ages love pretending to cook for you 🙂. You can focus on various concepts such as temperature, colors, spatial relationships, textures, etc. You can also work on some simple direction following when pretending to create recipes.
7. Play food: Well, every play kitchen needs some play food!
8. Shopping cart: Pretending to go grocery shopping is a great way to work on vocabulary and following lists.
9. Workshop: My son loves his little workshop! It’s another great way to target specific vocabulary and demonstrate appropriate word and sentence grammar. This one is awesome because you can ACTUALLY create/build things!
10. Art easel: Create works of art and target communication at the same time. An art easel gives toddlers the opportunity to get a little messy while working on their colors, shapes, and targeted vocabulary.
11. School bus: The Little People school bus is great to work on scripts specific to school and getting on/off the bus. You can model sentences using various verb tenses (i.e. “The girl is sitting on the bus.” or “The bus driver stopped at the stop sign.”)
12. Learning Zoo: This zoo playset is awesome! I love how you can target so many different things at once. From animal names, animal sounds, verbs, colors, spatial relationships, and so much more.
13. Train table: The train table is a must for every toddler household! It seems that all kids have a fascination with trains so let’s use it to our advantage. Just like with the zoo table, you can work on so many different concepts due to the open-ended nature of this toy.
14. Dress up clothes: Dress up clothes are fun for girls AND boys! They are a great way to get kids using their imagination and using language specific to that character or context.
15. Jumbo knob puzzles: Love these for babies! My son loved to take the pieces in and out as we talked about the shapes, objects, or animals. You can also incorporate concepts such as “in/out”.
16. Wooden building blocks: Blocks are awesome because they are so open-ended your child can really use his imagination. I like that the colored blocks gives a few extra opportunities for color concepts and sorting.
17. Ice cream counter: Our local library has this ice-cream counter by Melissa and Doug and my son just loves it! We are able to work on activity-specific vocabulary (i.e. cone, scoop, sprinkles, flavors) as well as spatial relationships, temperature words, counting, sequencing, and functional communication with scripts specifically for ordering food/ice-cream.
18. Playhouse: A playhouse is another staple item as the opportunities for language building are endless. You can go through scripts related to daily living and enforce really any concepts you want!
19. Play vet set: This is another item that’s at our local library and the kids go absolutely nuts for it! Pretend play is so powerful for kids and you can target so many different language skills because of its open-ended nature. Talk about the names of the tools and narrate what you’re doing as you take care of the animals so your child can imitate that language.
20. Little People Songs and Sounds Camper: One of our all-time favorite toys! My son loves taking the people camping and repeating the phrases we’ve modeled for him. We talk about the ride up to the campground, unpacking the camper, going fishing, having a campfire, making food, and so much more.
21. Hand puppets: Puppets are a great way to model conversations and any other language skill you want to reinforce.
22. Wash n dry dish set: Another super functional toy to work on daily living skills and the communication that goes along with that. You can work on concepts such as wash/dry, colors, clean/dirty as well as colors and specific vocabulary such as plate, cup, fork, spoon, knife, etc.
23. Car playmat: This is a great one to focus on traffic/car related vocabulary as well as directional concepts. My brother and I used to have a huge car playmat when we were little and we played with it all the time!
24. Cash register: This is probably the most popular toy I have in my classroom. My students ranging from 3 years old to 11 years old all love it! Buttons + money = endless fun for everyone!
25. Dollhouse: There are some dollhouses that are very gender neutral which is great because boys can have lots of fun with them too! Just like the playhouse, there many opportunities to talk about daily living skills and routines with this toy as well as household vocabulary.
Now that you’ve seen 25 of the best Christmas gifts for toddlers to promote language development, I’d like to hear what’s on YOUR Christmas list this year! Leave a comment below with some items that you hope Santa will bring you this year ;-).